DVD: The Crimson Petal and the White (15)

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The Independent Culture

When it appeared on screens earlier this year, the BBC's adaptation of Michel Faber's 2002 novel, The Crimson Petal and the White won an army of fans.

Telling the tale of star-crossed lovers Sugar, a prostitute, and William Rackham, a wealthy perfume heir, it offers a sure-fire bit of period romance, all bustiers, voluminous skirts and fire-side romance. Lurking in the back is the grimy underside of Victorian London, where sex is cheap and disease widespread. There is, it has to be said, a faint whiff of the ridiculous about it. Strong as the lead performances may be, the production struggles to shrug off the hint of ham. Still, as a hearty bit of dramatic guilty pleasure, you could stoop far lower. Alice-Azania Jarvis